Morning after pill accessible to all ages?

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By Enza Macherone

On Monday May 6, President Barack Obama filed an appeal to restrict the availability of the morning-after pill to women of all ages without a prescription.

This highly-debated issue has been fading in and out of public view for months, ever since the FDA allowed the sale of Plan B without a prescription to consumers ages 17 and older. U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman ordered last month to remove the age and prescription restrictions on Plan B.

According to an article from WNYT, “Attorneys for the Center for Reproductive Rights have said in court papers that every day the ruling is not enforced is ‘life-altering’ to some women.”

If the government is unsuccessful in its attempt to uphold the age restriction, the drug will be available to women of any age. Despite removing the age restriction, the debate over the health risks of the morning-after pill will continue.

Director of Health Services  and certified Nurse Practitioner Angela Stefanatos explained that the Health Center does provide the morning-after pill.

“We require a urine pregnancy test. Other than that, they come in and meet with the provider and have a discussion about the side effects. If you call to say you are coming in for Plan B, you will get an appointment that day,” she explained.

One of the reasons for the debate over the morning after pill is the medical implications. Stefanatos said, “The biggest side effect is nausea and vomiting. Other side effects can be an irregular cycle for that menstrual period. It is the same progesterone [hormone] as the regular birth control pill.”

When asked if younger girls experience worse side effects, she said, “Younger girls tend to be more irregular, so it just might be more upsetting to them if their period doesn’t come on time. I don’t think that there would be any significant difference.”

Stefanatos made it clear that Plan B should not be used as birth control. “One of the things we talk about when [students] come in is that [the pills] should not be used as birth control. We have some students who tend to do that. It is more meant for an isolated event,” she said.

Despite the very controversial nature of deciding to allow access to Plan B, it will continue to be provided to students in need by Health Services. Stefanatos also wanted students to know of the constant availability of free condoms, available discreetly at Health Services to anyone who needs them.

 

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